Books promote good-natured debate

Lists like “top 10s” provoke all kinds of discussion. Why was something included and something else left off the list?

Two recent Indiana-related books offer an opportunity for just that kind of good-natured debate.

Indiana is dotted with small, often out-of-the-way towns of great charm that travelers often find only by chance. But those towns have festivals, shopping and dining offerings that can make a detour off the major highway worth the time.

That’s the mission of “Little Indiana: Small Town Destinations” by Jessica Nunemaker ($23, Quarry Press).

The author offers thumbnail sketches of 91 Hoosier communities. In each section, she describes a local attraction of note or an annual event, shopping possibilities and a dining option.

She divides the book into three regional groups, making it easier for travelers to find something near home or near a destination.

But beware. The economy moves faster than any book could hope to keep up with. For example, the restaurant mentioned in the chapter on Morgantown has been closed for months, and nothing has opened at that site. So if you plan to travel specifically to eat or shop in a particular place, call ahead to make sure it’s still open.

“On This Day in Indianapolis History” ($21.99, The History Press) presents tidbits of history keyed to each day of the calendar. Author Dawn E. Bakken, associate editor of Indiana Magazine of History, includes obvious major events, such as the Indianapolis 500 on May 31 and the deadly explosion at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on Oct. 31, 1963.

But she also includes less-well-known but equally interesting tidbits, such as the entry for Oct. 2, which discusses the role John Muir (before he became a noted naturalist) played in the development of a modern, precision carriage wheel.

The book is fun to pick up and read entries at random, always offering readers entertaining and informative nuggets of Circle City history.